Hiking is a wonderful way to connect with nature and learn more about your environment, especially during a time where we spend most of our day sitting at home. From the hidden gems of Harriman State Park to the humble trails of Teatown, the trails of the Hudson Valley are truly magical. Here are some places to consider when planning your next hike.
These trails are all easily accessible, however, there has been an increase in hikers over the past year so parking may be limited. Safety should always come first both in terms of trail safety and your health. Even though you are outside, please wear a mask to protect yourself and others. Happy trails!
My dad and I first discovered this trail a number of years ago and to this day it remains one of my favorites. Though the hike is relatively short, it is pretty steep, with plenty of boulders to scramble over. The trail is well marked with blue paint and it forms a nice loop, right back to the parking lot. There is also a trail leading from the parking lot down to a nice stream. The true attraction of Popolopen is the 360-degree view from its peak, with a stunning view of the Bear Mountain Bridge and the lakes and forest below. The trail’s summit is also the home to a monument of painted rocks for the people who have served our country. Since I first set foot on the summit, the monument has tripled in size. For a very long time, this trail has been overlooked by many hikers but recently its popularity has bloomed. If you’re looking to add a few miles to your hike, there is also a longer trail you can take to the mountain that is just as scenic as the shorter loop.
The Lemon Squeezer is named after a rock formation in Harriman State Park. The name of this trail is fitting as it passes right between two rocks making for a tight squeeze with a rock scramble upwards. While there are alternate routes around the formation, the rocks are the main attraction. If you want a shorter hike you can turn around after the Lemon Squeezer and simply hike back (4.0 miles). The full loop is about 8.2 miles. Connecting to different parts of the Appalachian Trail, the hike’s length can be modified. The rest of the trail is pretty tame but still very beautiful.
Teatown, a nature preserve that’s mission is to inspire environmental stewardship in the community, is a great place to visit. The trails are all wonderful and good for the whole family. My personal favorite hike is the Twin Lakes trail over to the Waterfall Trail and then onto the Teatown Lake trail. This is a nice loop because it passes along all three of Teatown’s major lakes with plenty of other interesting spots along the way such as the waterfall. Along with its hiking opportunities, Teatown runs educational programs, camps, and events. However, due the pandemic, many of these programs have been delayed or cancelled. In recent months, Teatown has had an increase in visitors so they have started requiring users to pay for parking if you are not a member. The funds received from paid parking go toward maintaining the trails.
This hike is definitely more famous than the others due to its more perilous nature but is perfect trail for anyone who enjoys a challenge. The climb is a tough scramble up rocks, but the views of the Hudson River are incredible. There are also a few opportunities to add more to the hike. For example, when I did it, we also hiked on the Cornish Estate trail which passes by the ruins of an old mansion. After rainfall the rocks can be slippery so try to plan your trip after a few days of no rainfall. While the trail was recently closed to make it safer, it is still important to take precautions while hiking on this trail.
Yes, that’s right, Doodletown. The name of this trial is believed to be derived from the Dutch ‘Dood Tal’ meaning “dead valley.” This trail is perfect for anyone who loves a good history lesson for it passes through an abandoned village undergoing ecological succession. The town was founded by miners and loggers in the 1760s and existed as a small, isolated community until a land acquisition was made in the 1960s by the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission. Although the Palisades Interesatte Parks Commission planned to use the land for cross-conttry skiing, this plan never came to fruition. Today, hikers get to enjoy walks along the town’s two main roads stopping to look at the ruins. There are signs posted along the trail with information about important sites, such as the old church, school, and small businesses. Plots are still available in the cemeteries for old residents and their descendants. The Doodletown trails also connect to the 1777 trail, another one of Harriman’s more historic trails.